Introduction to Stops

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“Exposure stops”, or just “stops”, is a common term in photography and is used to describe how much light hits the sensor, or the brightness level of the image, relative to a reference level (sometimes referred to as “0 stops”). The brightness of the image is doubled when you “move one stop up” and reduced by half if you “move one stop down”. The total amount of stops a camera has at its disposal is therefore equivalent to the sum of how many times the light intensity can be doubled from lowest to highest possible. The amount of stops available in a sensor is very relatable to the dynamic range of the camera. The Zivid camera has about 23 stops available, which is a key component as to why Zivid is able to achieve good data on shiny objects.

Stops in practice

Let us look at an example.


Let us assume an imaging sensor that reads out brightness value – or contrast – on a scale from 0 to 255, and that we capture images of a wall. By averaging the brightness, or light intensity, from all pixels we get an average image intensity for a given image. Let us assume that in the first image the average intensity reads 60. If the exposure is increased by one stop the intensity will also be doubled to 120. Increasing exposure by two stops will increase the intensity to 240. On the other hand, if the exposure is reduced by 1 stop, the intensity will decrease to 30. Reducing exposure by two stops will decrease the intensity to 15.

An example of different exposure can be seen in the image below, where the left hand side has an exposure of -2 stops relative to the right side.

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